Monthly Archives: December 2014

Self-publishing & libraries

Self-published books have become more common as technology has made self-publishing easier. For much of the twentieth century, self-published books were rejected out of hand by many libraries unless the author or topic were of local significance. But the ease of access to self-publishing tools and changes in the traditional publishing industry have made self-publication much more respectable.

Librarians are occasionally approached by authors who would like to make a gift of their self-published works to the library. This raises a number of questions for technical services librarians, and the “gift” can create considerable costs in terms of the staff time it takes to process the books. At the same time libraries are natural partners for patrons who need help researching, editing, and publicizing their works and learning the ropes of self-publication, distribution, etc.

Does your library have a written policy about how to handle self-published books?

Are you a librarian with experiences to share, advice to offer, or questions about handling self-published works and self-publishing authors?

Are you an author with experiences to share, advice to offer, or questions about how to work with libraries and librarians?

To start things off, I’ll mention that as a cataloger I frequently find that self-published books need original cataloging, and there also often a need to do the authority work to differentiate the names of the self-publishing author. For example, there is a fairly popular writer who uses the pseudonym “Silk White.” No other library had established an authorized form for his name, and there was inconsistency in the heading for his name in the OCLC records, so I had to determine whether the name was intended as phrase or first name/last name. I also discovered that my library has three versions of one of his novels (Married to da streets) all copyrighted 2006 and all sharing the same ISBN. The number of pages of these editions varied quite a bit (144, 190, and 240 pages) and one also has a 2007 publication date.  So, each edition needed a different bibliographic record. (Happily, Silk White has not released his subsequent novels in multiple versions.) So from a cataloging point of view, self-published books can present a number of challenges when it comes to simply identifying the work and author. But I’m curious about how new self-published titles are discovered and selected, and how libraries are addressing the trend from a collection building and collection management perspective.

Please leave a comment to join the conversation!


–Posted by Mike Monaco

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